Cory’s Corner: Jermichael Finley’s future is not as a Packer

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Jermichael Finley averaged 464 yards receiving and three touchdowns a season in six years spent as a Packer.
Jermichael Finley averaged 464 yards receiving and three touchdowns a season in six years spent as a Packer.

Perhaps the news that Jermichael Finley has been medically cleared is a clear vision of great things to come.

But the moment I heard the news, I merely shrugged my shoulders.

It’s great that Finley, an athletic marvel at the tight end position, was able to get his C3 and C4 vertebrates fused. I was one of the guys that thought he would never play again.

But now that he’s cleared, his future is not in Green Bay. First of all, I am not sure what kind of coin his agent Blake Baratz is going to command. But remember, Finley is coming off his two-year $14-million prove-it deal and especially after a bruised spinal cord, the 27-year-old will be looking for some security.

The Packers most definitely have a need at tight end. Andrew Quarless and Brandon Bostick haven’t been able to prove their worth consistently. Green Bay even rolled the dice with troubled Oregon star Colt Lyerla, hoping to catch lightning in a bottle.

Secondly, before the injury, the Packers brass may have been pondering if it was worth it to keep Finley around. Finley was able to bring many double-teams to the middle of the field which gave guys like Jordy Nelson, Randall Cobb and James Jones one-on-one battles which they often won. However, when Finley was called upon to come up with a drive-extending grab on third down or a critical goal line catch, his hands frequently betrayed him.

But that’s not even the worst. His blocking skills were always something of a head scratcher. He was clearly motivated to run routes, catch passes and score touchdowns. He isn’t exactly wired to be a hard-charging blocker when the offense needs to salt the game away. And that’s why the Packers have kept four tight ends, an unheard of number, since 2010. Someone else must pick up the little things that he cannot or refuses to do.

Finally, just because the doctor that performed the procedure has medically cleared Finley doesn’t mean that team doctors won’t have questions and raise red flags. Finley still has to prove that he is not only capable of playing at his pre-injury level but he also must prove that he has the strong psyche to understand that teams, like it or not, will now be targeting his neck.

But Finley also has to decide for himself what is important. That inner-drive as an athlete to continue playing regardless of the risks or shutting it down to preserve a healthy future with his family. He stands to collect on his $10 million insurance policy if he decides to never put on an NFL helmet again. Obviously that all changes the moment he decides to play again, causing that insurance money to evaporate.

Win-now teams like Seattle and New England are more apt to kick the tires on Finley because if they can get him to sign a low year, incentive-laden deal, it would be great if he returns to his old self. Those teams already have pieces in place to help him but if Finley cannot find his old dynamic self, they will not be risking a large portion of their future.

Have we seen the best of Finley? Maybe, maybe not. But Finley won’t have the opportunity to continue to blossom under the tutelage of Aaron Rodgers and Mike McCarthy. There are too many question marks filled with not enough answers, and then there’s his Jekyll and Mr. Hyde persona on the football field that eventually wore out his welcome.

In a delicate injury situation like this, you hate to bring on-field performance into the equation, but all the miscommunication, dropped balls and missed blocks cannot be ignored.

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Cory Jennerjohn is from Wisconsin and has been in sports media for over 10 years. To contact Cory e-mail him at jeobs -at- yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter: Cory Jennerjohn

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  • BRinMilwaukee

    It should be like any other free agent. The Packers have the inside track, but if somebody wants to pay him more than the Packers are willing to pay, he’ll be gone. I hope we keep him at $5m for one year.

  • Sven

    Let him find another team. The Packers need more reliable players and less injury issues. He may be a top notch talent, but I think the team is better off without him.

  • John Zoul

    A lot of assumptions in this article. Why would an insurance company pay $10M because JM decides not to play. Have never heard of any insurance policy based on “well, I don’t feel like playing, so,hand over ten million dollars”…I doesn’t work that way. If he can, the operative word is can play and is medically cleared, the insurance company is off the hook. We also do not know the financial details of the policy, length of contract, cost per year, etc.
    All that being said, I do tend to agree with you, he has played his last game in green and gold. He was always said to have great “potential.” In other words,he never lived up to his over-hyped ability. His catching skills were spotty and blocking mediocre. Would be nice if someone else signs him to a substantial contract and we pick-up a compensatory pick…

    • Archie

      I agree with your comments.

      “….Jermichael Finley averaged 464 yards receiving and three touchdowns a season in six years spent as a Packer.”

      Really? That seems to be mediocre production for a starting TE and pathetic production for a TE that hails himself as the greatest and Ted Thompson decided to pay him as though he were. Now the guy is damaged goods, both physically and psychologically. I’d offer this guy the veteran’s minimum, laced with incentives. Obviously somebody else will be crazy enough to give him much more. Good-bye Jerk-Michael and let’s get started with our future at TE. The Finley era is over in GB. Hallelujah! Someone mentioned that a year from now it will be Rodgers and Lyerla at TE in GB. That would suit me fine if they can get the job done. But I think many are selling Bostick short. He flashed brilliance last season in very limited action. He is my dark horse for emerging as the Most Improved Packer in 2014. He has a chance to become the downfield weapon that Finley was touted as. The difference is he may actually be a consistent downfield threat who actually knows his assignments etc.

      Why the MM/TT love affair with Finley? Same with Hawk. Impossible to explain other than it is clear that TT has his favorites and players who he doesn’t much care for – talent has nothing to do with it. Ask C Jenkins, Scott Wells, Greg Jennings, etc. Yet he has no trouble overpaying the likes of Hawk, Jones, Raji, Burnett and Finley. Yet another reason why TT is not a good GM. Go home to TX and be an area scout.

    • JR

      Great comment, I completely agree, John. I’d love to see the Packers pick-up a compensatory draft pick if Jermichael signs a contract with a different team. It could very well be a 3rd-round pick or thereabouts.

  • http://Clh.weebly.com Chris

    I think the packers should keep him on like a one year deal worth about 6m.they can give him a shot in preseason and see if they will keep him

    • http://www.aol.com mark

      McCarthy loves Finley. Finley should have been gone. Finley is over paid and drops too many passes. Vern Davis makes less then Finley and is much better!

      • Tom R.

        This guy’s an over paid joke. Did you ever see a tight end drop a pass because a safety is near him? TE just catch the ball and run over a safety.

  • Big T

    There has always been a weird love triangle between MM/TT/Finley. I don’t think he will play for the Packers again if TT/MM take the love glasses off. There is no way Finley will play at the pre-injury level again. He was talking about quitting after his concussion and then he experiences a near quadraplegic moment. Now he is going to come back and play some smashmouth football. Me don’t think so…Bye bye Finley, good luck in the future.

  • Calabasa

    John Zoul- he has an insurance policy that will pay him 10m if he suffers a career-ending injury.

    • Big T

      Calabasa, if he is medically cleared won’t the insurance company say “screw you”???

    • JimR_in_DC

      The Pittsburgh doctor just certified that Finley’s injury has not ended his career.

  • Art

    From what I understand, they tossed him a copy of his insurance policy, but then he dropped it. So his insurance agent picked it up and handed it to him and he did a celebratory dance. After they read the policy payout to him he was enraged because he felt receivers get more than that in their insurance policy (since he felt he was a receiver and not a TE)! All joking aside there is no reason the Packers should feel that they will get a new and improved TE. They got the best of what he had to offer. Sign him and expect a lower level of play.

    • Archie

      What? Is not ….”Jermichael Finley averaged 464 yards receiving and three touchdowns a season in six years spent as a Packer.” outstanding production for one of the highest paid TEs in the business? Oh, wait, you’re right, it’s not. It’s actually quite paltry. Good-bye Jerk-Michael, overpaid love child of MM/TT.

  • Big T

    Finley, just ride off into the sunset. You have many millions of dollars. Go home take care of the family and have fun. No need to try and come back and completely embarass yourself or worse yet become a quadraplegic. You can always talk about how great you were.

  • https://www.facebook.com/pages/South-Carolina-Packer-Backers/249879711702394 barry talbert

    Either way it is win win for Packers. I think either
    A: we sign him to low contract-get him for one more yr. He proves he can handle the riggers of a season in NFL. Even here it can be win because, in a yr we will have better idea in what we have in draft pick TE Rodgers,Bostick and possibly Lyria- possibly letting him go after yr if any of these end up being real deal-then getting comp pick for Finley following yr.
    B:he ignores our low offer and some team offers him a lot larger contract in which case next yr we have one more FA loss, at a large contract, to add to comp pick list next yr.

  • Rossoneri83

    IN TERMS OF RISK AND REWARD, IT’S SIMPLY NOT WORTH IT. Finley can risk his health, but if he gets hurt, I do not want it to happen in a Packers uniform. I wish him well.

  • Ed Schoenfeld

    When no other team signs Finley, the Packers will sign him to a 1 year deal for more money than everyone on this board thinks he is worth.

    The Packers MDs will then fail him for medical reasons, and Finley can collect on his insurance policy.

    A significant proportion of our fellow posters here will still give themselves ulcers watching the dance play out.

    • ZeroTolerance

      Great insight!

  • Ed Schoenfeld

    Agree with you about his value as a threat being more than just his production. Using a straight average is probably the wrong way to evaluate a player who spent his rookie season mostly on the bench or ST. If you divided Aaron Rodgers stats by 9 (including the 3 years he sat on the bench behind Favre) instead of the 6 years he has been the starter, the resulting ‘average’ would look pretty pathetic, too.

  • WKUPackFan

    Finley is a different kind of guy. It’s easy to see why some people don’t like him. Others don’t pay any attention to his occasional antics and it’s doubtful AR or any other teammates did either.

    Finley is essentially unfiltered, or lacking in media savvy to put it another way. I find that kind of refreshing.

    • Stroh

      So do I… He’s much like Leroy Butler that way. Just says what he thinks w/o a filter. Its very refreshing after trying to sit thru interviews w/ players where they are so concerned that they don’t react or answer for about 10 sec while they consider the best way to say nothing while saying something.

    • John Zoul

      I wonder what he scored on the Wonderlic?…I’ll bet it was under 15…He probably majored in Basket-Weaving….
      In any event, I wish him well. Am tired of his great ‘potential’…

  • Slim11

    John Zoul said…

    “Why would an insurance company pay $10M because JM decides not to play. Have never heard of any insurance policy based on “well, I don’t feel like playing, so,hand over ten million dollars”…I doesn’t work that way. If he can, the operative word is can play and is medically cleared, the insurance company is off the hook. We also do not know the financial details of the policy, length of contract, cost per year, etc.”

    This policy is probably similar to the policy QB Joe Theisman had in effect following his broken leg back in the mid-1980s. His leg was badly broken following a sack by LB Lawrence Taylor.

    The following season, he was cleared, tried to come back in the Redskins training camp and just couldn’t do it. IIRC, the policy did pay out. He said he wanted to play.

    Given what the Packers did with WR Terrence Murphy and S Nick Collins, I also suspect Finley won’t play in GB again…as a Packer. Like the numbers along the D-line don’t bode well for Johnny Jolly, the same can be said for the numbers at TE and Finley.

    • Ed Schoenfeld

      Theisman is a good example, but there are some significant differences to Finley’s situation.

      Breaking what happened to Theisman down, he said he wanted to play, one MD (his own) cleared him to do so, he was under contract to a team, but during camp that team deemed him physically unable to do the job because of his injury. Theisman effectively had no opportunity to ‘shop around’ for a team that might want him anyway.

      The major difference between the situations of Theisman and Finley is that Theisman was not a free agent (and free agency rules were very different). If Finley had been hurt in 2012, when he was still under contract during the following year (2103), his situation might have played out very similar to Theisman — show up in camp, get listed on the PuP, then medically fail in his comeback, then collect on insurance policy.

      But in 2014 Finley is not under contract. It is very likely that the terms of his insurance policy require him to make every effort to play (i.e. seek medical clearance, seek a contract, and maybe even sign with a team). Finley would collect on the policy only if every interested team failed him for medical concerns, which the team MDs can do even if Finley’s personal MD says its ok. (That is true even if Finley’s MD is a team Dr. — Dr. says “these are the risks, you can play if you want to take them.” J-mike says ‘OK, lets play.’ Team asks same Dr. ‘can he play?’ Dr. says “these are the [same] risks, he can play if you want to take them.” Team says ‘No thanks.’)

      So whether Finley actually prefers to collect the insurance policy is non-material at this point — he HAS to say he wants to play until its proven no team will let him because of medical concerns.

      Everything that happens with regard to Finley this offseason needs to be understood in that context.

      • Slim11

        Good points!

        I did forget that Theisman retired after his attempted comeback. Free agency does make a difference.

  • Mojo

    The Pack drafted another TE high. They have another gifted prospect as a FA.

    Unless Finley is willing to sign a one year lowball show-me contract(and I think he won’t) GB will move on. Plus, they added a number of other receiving options in this draft. And they still need to re-sign Cobb and Jordy.

    I think Finley will sign with another team. Too bad, because he has so much potential.

  • northerner

    I haven’t been a fan of JMichael since he has been a Packer. Too many dropped passes that needed to be caught and his attitude seemed to be negative at times. Let him play for another team. The Pack needs to cut down the number of injury prone players.

  • spillitpickett

    You really think teams will be “targeting his neck” in hopes of paralyzing him for good? I highly doubt that. Sure, those hits happen, but i dont think they would specifically target him that way

  • Chad Erik Lundberg

    Never play in GB again? Now you’re speaking my language. Who wants to pay someone 5 mil to either play inconsistent or get injured again?

    Imo, the guy only cares about the money anyway. I don’t know what I do as a GM about that, but as a fan I feel like those types if players are not even worth the trouble. Chris Johnson comes to mind.

    Give it up folks, his run here is done.

  • Wagszilla

    If I’m Finley, I want to be back in Green Bay. He already knows the offense (but still manages to be out of position a lot of the time) and will be supported by a good coaching staff.

    Long story short, if he wants big $, it will be with the Packers as his chances diminish greatly anywhere else.

    If I’m a fan the injury history and drop history is like to scare me away. That being said, if healthy, I wouldn’t mind having him back on a low-cost 1-year deal.

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  • TheMarathonMan

    “I am not sure what kind of coin his agent Blake Baratz is going to command. But remember, Finley is coming off his two-year $14-million prove-it deal and especially after a bruised spinal cord, the 27-year-old will be looking for some security.”

    Seriously??? A guy with a C3-C5 fusion is NOT going to command any “security” with ANYONE. He will be happy if somebody pays him vet minimum at this point. The Packers might end up being the only team that takes that kind of risk.

  • tracy

    Thank God & Greyhound the glamor boy is gone!

  • packett

    The criticism is too harsh. All the talk about his attitude is way overblown. Just because he said things at times that irked people, saying he is a jerk, and bad attitude? Vernon Davis has his share of attitude. I think good teams figure out how to work with people even if they’re not the Poster Face of the team. Other issues with inconsistency are solvable (James Jones), so if a team has invested heavily in a player such as Finley, to cut him over such trivial attitude issues is poor human resource management. The decision should be based only on the contract cost vs likelihood of the 2013 pre-injury preformance. Get over the ‘attitude issues’. Its a non factor. Hope you’re back Finley for another 1-2 years, and that your challenge over past year helps you mature a bit.

    • Since ’61

      Packett – I agree with you, but I don’t think that Finley will agree on a reasonable contract, but who knows, anything can happen. Go Pack! Thanks, Since ’61

  • http://grizzlymitch@bresnan.net grizzlymitch

    You forgot Rodgers from Cal. For a third round draft pick he better be pretty good. If you look at the whole scope of work from Finley, he was a let down. See ya.

    • JR

      I agree. Time will tell. Rogers from Cal better be good or else he’s another TE washout like DJ Williams from Arkansas. I had high hopes for DJ, but it just didn’t work out in GB. He couldn’t get on the field enough, dropped some passes, missed opportunities, etc. From all the research I’ve done, everyone keeps saying that Rogers from Cal has excellent hands. Catches everything thrown his way… We’ll see… Hopefully, he can refine his game, learn the system quickly and run great routes. He’s not the fastest TE, but James Jones wasn’t the fastest WR, and yet he found ways to get open and catch footballs…

  • Don Huttson

    Personally, I thought Finley stunk prior to his injury. Here was a guy with the dreaded “Potential” label… and he never really lived up to it. Take an objective look at his five year career with Green Bay… he had but three great games, the rest were pretty pedestrian compared to the likes of Whitten, Gonzalez, Gates, Gronkowski, Graham etc. And these were the TE’s all the experts claimed he had the potential to be just as good as… well, never happened. Never a threat to be named to the probowl and rarely a threat to catch the ball when needed, the packers won’t miss him. Quarless will put up the same numbers for a lot less money. Adios and good riddance Jerkmichael.

    • Stroh

      He also wasn’t made the focus of an offense like Gonzalez, Gates, Gronk, Graham and to a lesser extent Whitten were. Early in the ’09 season he was till his injury that year, then McCarthy changed the offense to spread out the wealth.